What happens when you remove fluoride from tap water?

If you live in the United States, it is highly likely that the tap water you use is enriched with fluoride, a substance that helps prevent tooth decay. However, due to concerns that fluoridated water may increase the risk of other diseases, the capital city of Alaska stopped this practice. What happened?

Most regions of the U.S. and some other countries across the world add specific quantities of fluoride to their community water supplies.

What happens when you remove fluoride from tap water?

They do this because fluoride can effectively prevent or, in some cases, reverse the formation of tooth cavities. Fluoride promotes the remineralization of teeth, strengthening their enamel and thus helping them fight off the bacteria that cause decay.

For this same reason, most types of toothpaste and many mouthwash products contain some fluoride. However, ingested fluoride tends to accumulate in our bones, which has led some people to worry that drinking fluoridated water might increase the risk of various health problems. These include cancer, particularly osteosarcoma, which is a type of cancer that starts in the bones.

Such concerns led the City Assembly of Juneau to direct the cessation of fluoridation of community water in their area, with effect from 2007.

In a new study that the journal BMC Oral Health recently published, a research team from the College of Health Sciences at Walden University in Minneapolis, MN, and the College of Health at the University of Alaska Anchorage has investigated the effects of this decision on the oral health of the young inhabitants of Juneau.